Giants outfielder Luis Gonzalez will undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back later today, reports Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic (Twitter link). The procedure comes with a sizable 16-week recovery timetable, which takes him through late June on the calendar. Once recovered, he’ll still need to build back up to baseball activity and game readiness.
Gonzalez, 27, got out to a hot start in 2022, his first season with the Giants after spending his entire career with the White Sox organization prior to that point. Through June 21, Gonzalez was hitting .302/.361/.447 in 180 plate appearances, but a lower back strain shelved him for the next two and a half weeks. He returned on July 9 but was back on the injured list with another back strain about six weeks later — this time missing the remainder of the season. Gonzalez may never have been fully healthy upon returning, as he batted only .204/.282/.270 in 170 trips to the plate between those two IL stints.
It was already known that Gonzalez would miss the start of the season due to ongoing back troubles, but an absence of this magnitude hadn’t been previously revealed. The Giants initially placed a four- to six-week timetable on his absence early in camp, but the team announced yesterday that he was seeking a second opinion from a spinal specialist.
The Giants are now down two outfielders, as offseason signee Mitch Haniger is dealing with a Grade 1 oblique strain that threatens his readiness for Opening Day. With that pair on the sidelines for now, the Giants will utilize Michael Conforto, Mike Yastrzemski and likely a combination of Joc Pederson and Austin Slater in the outfield to begin the season. Prospect Heliot Ramos was optioned the other day.
If Haniger is to begin the season on the injured list, that could also open the door for a non-roster invitee like Stephen Piscotty — who’s having a strong showing so far in camp — to make the Opening Day roster as well. Gonzalez’s long-term absence would create an easy avenue for adding such a player to the 40-man roster, as he’s now an obvious candidate to be shifted to the 60-day injured list.
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